Cigar Aficionado

A New Way of Lighting

I thought I had witnessed just about every way you can light a cigar—matches, lighters, cedar spills, candles (bad), gas stovetops (effective in a pinch)—but I heard of a new twist on Saturday night.

My wife and I went to a casual dinner party not too far from home. The rain held off, so most of the men gathered in the nighttime air for cocktails and hors d’oveurs. I only knew a couple of the people at the party. I met a gentleman named Rob who works in sports management, who is quite the fan of Montecristo No. 2 cigars.

We spoke about cigars for a bit and Rob told me about a trip to a small chalet in Switzerland several years back. He ordered a post-dinner Monte 2.

The cigar sommelier brought out a humidor, selected the proper cigar, clipped it, and lit it with a cedar spill. Nothing unusual so far. But instead of blowing on the lit foot, the sommelier extended his arm, the cigar held in his hand, and began making ever-larger arcs with the smoldering figurado. After a few passes back and forth, he ceremoniously whipped the cigar in a circle, again and again, adding air to the foot.

He handed the cigar to Rob, who took a puff—the cigar was perfectly (and elaborately) lit.

It sounds to me like the cigar version of sabering open a bottle of Champagne. (Or a way to get a little exercise before you smoke.) I’ve never heard of a cigar being lit this way. Has anyone ever tried it?

"You just need to get out more to places that aren't, uh, golf courses. Back when I would go to Cuba for different stories, we would meet with government officials. At a swank -- for Havana -- dinner, the "Habanos sommelier" performed the whirling arson for us. On the third cigar, his hand must have cramped because the torpedo flew out and smashed into the carpeted floor at the Riviera Hotel dining room. It was a veritable fireworks display of which the Grucci's would have been proud. The cigar just sort of fell apart. We just had to laugh as little as possible. Poor guy. " —October 1, 2008 09:58 AM
"The waiter at the El Floridita nightclub/restaurant in London (next to the LCDH in Soho) did that for us. I think the idea is that he can't puff on YOUR cigar and so does that to get it lit." —September 30, 2008 11:46 AM
"I need to change the name of the headline...New to me? Unusual? Next, I need to actually try it. " —September 30, 2008 09:45 AM
"Hi David~Habanos S.A. put out a DVD that I believe has the same title as their book The Complete Guide for Habanos' Enthusiast. One of the last chapters on the DVD is concerning the etiquette of properly preparing and enjoying a habano. The demonstration of how to light a cigar mirrors exactly what you just described. Important note is that it was the habanos sommelier that lit the cigar, not the person who was going to smoke it. For this reason, I think all the circling is just to generate air flow on the foot of the cigar, while avoiding to potential to accidently spit on it while blowing on the foot of the cigar." —September 29, 2008 18:41 PM
"I thought you lit cigars with hundred-dollar bills, Dave" —October 2, 2008 10:51 AM
"Nothing new. This is one of the "Lost Art" ways of lighting a cigar. Similar to Gordon's "Three Matches" Video Blog. Rare but highly effective.Cheers!Marcus IlleDanville, CA" —September 30, 2008 00:10 AM